EDMONTON -- The lake situated in Hawrelak Park may soon get a bit more use during the summer months.

Edmonton city councillors are discussing a $2-million plan to make the water at Hawrelak Park clean enough to paddle on. But, it would still not be considered safe enough for swimming.

Phosphorous levels are considered too high for safe human swimming, mainly because of the geese and their droppings.

Steve Bourdeau with World Triathlon Edmonton told city council's Community and Public Services Committee he wasn’t surprised with a city report that found sediment disruption and lawn fertilizer were partially to blame for poor water quality.

Bourdeau is part of a team that treats the lake once a year for triathlon use.

“We of course are very familiar with this body of water,” he said.

“You know everything’s been explored, from deepening the lake, regular dredgings, liners, aeration systems, filtration systems, plantings, water foul management, barriers, and typically it comes down to dollars.”

Money was the reason a proposal to build permanent beach in the park fell through roughly five years ago. According to the city, the $5-million price tag was just not worth it. Previous estimates have put the cost of swimmable water in the park close to $60-million. Now there’s a new plan to make the water clean enough for on-the-water activities.


It would cost the city $2-million up front, plus a $100,000 yearly grant for maintenance.

“You know, it’d be nice to have, but that’s a big price tag. It’s too much, it’s beautiful the way it is,” a parkgoer said.

“That’s a lot of money, for people to do things like kayaking. I think the river’s right there, it’s clean,” another park goer added.

Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack said, “I think that’s the right way to go forward, if there’s nothing else that can be done.”

Paddle boats have been available for rent in the park for decades, except for 2020 because of COVID-19.

This has brought up the question as to why paddle boats are allowed on the lake but kayaking and paddle boarding is not.

“Other on-the-water opportunities like stand-up paddle boarding have a higher likelihood of a person coming into contact with the water, therefore the water quality is of greater concern when considering those additional activities," said Christopher Webster, a communications advisor for the city.

Councillor Knack is asking city staff to show their analysis to water quality experts in the coming months, ensuring every treatment option for the lake has been looked at.

“Maybe they hadn’t considered this, and we have a different way forward that doesn’t have to cost the city much to let people swim. You just hate to miss out on that opportunity,” he said.

The decision will be up to the next council as the lake cleanup is part of the city’s next four-year budget cycle starting in late 2022.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson